Welcome to the second edition of Energy Scope and Trends, a weekly editorial that aims to keep you informed about the latest news and developments in the energy industry in bits.
In this week's issue, we cover a range of topics that are shaping the future of energy, including the EU's new battery recycling standards, IRENA's warning about the risks posed by a monopoly in the critical materials market, and Mitra Chem's recent win in the World Materials Forum Start-up Challenge for Battery Materials. Additionally, we highlight the support of a U.S. senate for a graphite project in Alaska that could help boost the country's battery industry and the Greek Transmission System Operator's acquisition of a significant stake in the EuroAsia Interconnector. Join us as we explore the most significant developments in the energy sector and their impact on the world around us.
EU Requires Higher Battery Recyclability Standards
The new EU battery regulation covers the entire battery lifecycle and ensures that critical raw materials are reused as far as possible. The regulation sets collection and recycling targets for different types of batteries, as well as minimum recycled content levels for new batteries. It specifies:
Waste portable batteries (63% by 2027 and 73% by 2030) and waste batteries from light means of transport (51% by 2028 and 61% by 2031) to be collected and recycled.
Mandatory minimum recycled content levels for new industrial, SLI and EV batteries (at least 50%).
Recycling efficiency targets of 80% for waste nickel-cadmium and 50% for other batteries by 2025.
The regulation aims to support Europe’s transition to low-emission mobility and make batteries the first true closed-loop industry.
Risk to Energy Transition: IRENA Cautions Against Monopoly in Critical Materials Market
The global energy transition depends on the availability and sustainability of critical materials, such as graphite, cobalt, lithium, and rare earths. However, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) warns that the supply chain of these materials is vulnerable to geopolitical risks and market monopoly.
According to the report, the mining and processing of critical materials is geographically concentrated, with a few countries and a few major companies playing a dominant role. This creates a risk of supply disruptions, resource nationalism, export restrictions, mineral cartels, instability, and market manipulation. The report calls for greater international cooperation and standards to ensure the ethical and environmental responsibility of the extractive industries. The report also suggests that diversifying the supply chain and opening up opportunities for developing countries can make the market more inclusive and resilient.
Mitra Chem Emerges as the Winner of World Materials Forum Start-up Challenge for Battery Materials
A North American start-up has won a prestigious award for its innovative battery materials technology.
Mitra Chem, a company that develops and produces iron-based cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries using machine learning, was awarded the Grand Prix at the 2023 World Materials Forum Start-Up Challenge. The challenge is a global platform that showcases the most promising materials science technologies that can contribute to sustainability and competitiveness.
Mitra Chem’s products are safer, cheaper, and cleaner than traditional nickel-rich solutions, prone to overheating and having a high environmental impact. Mitra Chem’s iron-based cathodes also have a higher energy density and longer cycle life than conventional lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathodes. The company has received support from the U.S. government’s incentives for domestic battery materials and several leading battery manufacturers and automakers. Mitra Chem aims to scale up its production and expand its market presence in the next few years.
Graphite Project in Alaska Gain Support from US Senator to Boost Country's Battery Industry
Senator Lisa Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is also a member of the Critical Minerals Caucus, has spoken in favour of the development of Graphite Creek, a large-scale graphite deposit owned by Graphite One.
In Her Words, I’ve always supported Graphite One and what they’re doing in Alaska, but really after my site visit there on Saturday, I’m convinced that this is a project that every one of us, those of us here in the Congress, the Biden Administration, all of us needs to support.
Murkowski said that Graphite Creek can help the U.S. reduce its reliance on foreign sources of critical minerals, such as graphite, which is essential for making lithium-ion batteries. She said that the U.S. currently imports 100% of its graphite needs, mostly from China, which poses a risk to its national security and economic competitiveness.
She also praised Graphite One for its environmental and social responsibility and its engagement with local communities and stakeholders. She urged the federal government to expedite the permitting process and provide funding for Graphite Creek and other critical mineral projects.
Greek Transmission System Operator Acquires 25% Stake in EuroAsia Interconnector
A Greek power company has joined a major project to connect Europe and Asia with a subsea electricity cable. IPTO, the Greek transmission system operator, has acquired 25% of the share capital in EuroAsia Interconnector Holdings Limited, the project promoter of the EuroAsia interconnector.
The EuroAsia interconnector is a €2 billion ($2.2 billion) project to build the first transcontinental subsea electricity interconnection, linking Greece with Cyprus and Israel, using a 1,208km HVDC cable. The project is expected to be completed by 2027 and will mark the electrical interconnection of Cyprus with the European transmission system, ensuring its energy security and increasing its renewable penetration]. The project will also strengthen Israel's security of supply and enable cross-border energy trade in the region.
The project is supported by the European Union as a Project of Common Interest (PCI) and has received €657 million ($719.9 million) from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). PTO's participation in the project is expected to accelerate the signing process with selected contractors and ensure the technical and financial adequacy of the project